Helen Vendler is one of those rare scholar-writers who doesn’t adhere to a particular school of theory. In her new book of essays, she explains her view of criticism as distinct from both philosophy and scholarship, as a form of learning that’s inherently “unsystematic and idiosyncratic.” In Open Letters Monthly, Jack Hanson reads through the book. You could also read Jonathan Farmer on Rita Dove’s letter to Vendler.
You’ve probably heard the internet adage, “If it exists, there is a porn of it.” Never has that been truer than in the case of the political erotica of 2016. From a particularly colorful Cruz/Rubio series: “’Who is this Hillary you’ve been texting?’ Rubio asks Cruz. ‘Saying things like ‘meet me when Marco’s not home,’ ‘I can hook you up,’ ‘what’s the price’ … don’t act all naïve right now!'”
Already on shelves ahead of its “official” release date is Mark Twain’s long embargoed Autobiography. Also new this week are The Petting Zoo, a posthumously published novel by punk poet Jim Carroll; a new collection of Selected Stories from master of the form William Trevor; Cynthia Ozick’s “retelling” of of Henry James’ The Ambassadors, Foreign Bodies; and, in time for election day today, Matt Taibbi’s collection of biting political journalism, Griftopia.
JT Leroy, who has been revealed as a made-up persona created to sell books, is still being “spotted” in LA and maintaining a blog. Pinky has the details.In his Friday Column, Scott writes about literary fiction that is “much discussed” but doesn’t sell many copies.Author (and blogger) Jenny Davidson has a new book coming out.And from the wonders of the world file: Something has caused the lake that sits atop Vanuatu’s Aoba volcano to turn from blue to red. Scientists are perplexed.
The New York Times recently ran an in depth look at the process of learning to deal in rare books. Which made me think of The Monkey’s Paw, a rare book store so good that twice now I’ve personally heard rare book dealers (at both Sellers and Newel and Paper Books) describe, with admiration and a dash of collegial envy, as everyone’s favorite book store.